Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame: LeRoy 'Ace' Gutowsky's induction was a long time coming

Oklahoma City civic leader Lee Allan Smith for years politicked that Gutowsky deserved to be inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
by Michael Baldwin Modified: August 1, 2013 at 6:26 pm •  Published: August 1, 2013
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Oklahoma City civic leader Lee Allan Smith for years politicked that LeRoy “Ace” Gutowsky deserved to be inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

“I certainly think he has enough statistics and records,” Smith said. “It's an eye opener to most people when they hear what he accomplished. I hate for old people to get lost in the shuffle just because they passed away a long time ago. His credentials are phenomenal.”

Gutowsky, who died in 1976 at age 67, was one of the NFL's top fullbacks in the league's early years. He retired in 1939 as the NFL's career rushing leader.

Born in Russia, raised in Kingfisher, Gutowsky was a multi-sport star at Oklahoma City University before he became one of the NFL's top players.

Gutowsky led the NFL in carries in 1934 with the Detroit Lions. He was on the Lions' 1935 NFL title team. He led the league in yards from scrimmage in 1936. He rushed for 827 yards that season, which was the Lions' single-season record that stood until 1960.

His NFL career began with the Portsmouth Spartans in southern Ohio, but his claim to fame was a fullback on one of the top rushing attacks in league history.

Known as the “Infantry Attack,” the Lions rushed for 2,885 yards in 1936, a mark that was the NFL single-season team record for 36 years until the league expanded regular-season schedules from 12 to 14 games.

Dutch Clark and Ernie Cadder were flashier backs, but Gutowsky was “the hard-line plunger” who was a workhorse that scored touchdowns. In a recent ranking of the top 100 players in Detroit Lions' history, Gutowsky ranked No. 41.

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by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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